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Former minister wants Pobal to handle payments to refugee accommodation providers

The function of paying accommodation providers to house Ukrainian refugees should be devolved to Pobal in Clifden, a former government minister has said.

Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív said Pobal has a proven track record in making complex payments to various organisations and would be capable of handling payments to accommodation providers of Ukrainian refugees and other asylum seekers.

The Fianna Fáil TD said the Department has failed to provide speedy payments to accommodation providers, who in some cases are waiting months to get paid.

“If the Department does not have the capacity to make these payments my suggestion is that they devolve the responsibility to Pobal who already provide many services directly to the state.

“When both the RSS scheme and the TÚS schemes were set up the Departments at the time recognised that the capacity did not exist in the Department to make the large number of complex wage payments involved each week.  In both cases the payroll function was devolved to Pobal’s office in Clifden with great success and customer satisfaction,” Deputy Ó Cuív said.

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Malcolm Noonan acknowledged there were delays but said more than 3,900 payments with a value of over €600m had been made to hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Minister Noonan said “some providers are experiencing delays in receiving payment” but he said resources had been doubled to clear the backlog.

“The Department has already begun outsourcing certain aspects of invoicing work to Pobal agency staff both to work directly on clearing the backlog and to engage with providers with invoicing issues.

“Officials within the Department have also investigated the feasibility of using other shared services options, including the team who process the housing assistance payments, HAP, payments for local authorities and other commercial providers, to consider further outsourcing and enable an enduring model, which will ensure that despite the scale, payments can be made on time,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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